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SEFTON COUNCIL: Lessons learned after seven children devastatingly failed by the system

SEFTON COUNCIL: Lessons learned after seven children devastatingly failed by the system

Image: LDRS

Council and social care chiefs say lessons have been learned after two babies died – and five other young children were victims of serious abuse.

The incidents took place within a period of just 20 months, sparking questions as to how these seven children were so devastatingly failed by the system.

Between July 2018 and March 2020, Sefton Council and partners investigated tragedies including a newborn baby found with thirteen broken bones, toddlers testing positive for drugs, and a four-month old baby left with head injuries after being shaken by her mother.

Serious Case Reviews (SCR) are undertaken after a child has died or been seriously harmed and there is cause for concern as to the way “the authority, their partners or other relevant persons worked together to safeguard the child”.

Prior to 2018, Sefton Council had not had an SCR for seven years.

At a Sefton Council Children’s Services meeting last night, Southport councillor Pat Keith asked why there had been so many SCRs in a short space of time.

Cllr Keith told the committee: “My concern about this is we had an SCR about two years ago, and at the time we were told there hadn’t been one for many years.

“Then suddenly we’ve got this cluster [of SCRs] in a very short space of time.”

None of the SCRs concluded any child’s death was preventable.

Safeguarding bosses assured Cllr Keith that the reviews identified where improvements could be made to safeguard children.

But Cllr Keith continued: “There are common themes, though, and if there’s learning from the first one and yet we are still seeing the same themes in later ones this causes me great concern.

“I’d like reassurance things are actually going forward and are safer for children.”

Paula St Aubyn, independent chair of Sefton Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB) , said: “Together with senior strategic partners , we have a transparent learning board where professionals feel safe in that they can raise cases they feel will provide some learning and improvements, and I think good organisations are learning organisations, who are always looking to seek to improve practise wherever they can.

“Indeed there are some recurring themes. What I would say is, though, as you have described they were a cluster of reviews in a short timescale so there is a requirement now to see those improvements are now embedded.”

Sefton Council says it is fully committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people.

A council spokesman told the LDRS: “The LSCB has commissioned five Serious Case Reviews, during 2018 and 2019.

“The primary aim of these reviews is to improve multi-agency practice, and a key responsibility of the LSCB is to ensure the recommendations identified have been actioned, and that the improvements in practice have been embedded and are making a difference to children and young people.

“The safeguarding partnership remain fully committed to implementing learning across their organisations, to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people throughout Sefton.”

Words: Kate Lally, Local Democracy Reporter


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